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Old 01-03-2014, 10:24 AM   #1
Trooper8286's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 89

First Stay as Members!- AKV-Kidani- Christmas, Magic Bands, and Noobie Mistakes

New member Trip Report- December 19-22, 2013- AKV Kidani Village

I have finally found time to sit down a write up a trip report for our inaugural stay as DVC members. I can honestly say that words fail to describe our trip. It was a fantastic way to kick off our Christmas vacation and our membership. My hope in writing this is newer members will gain some info and the rest can take something away. All of that being said, we did make several mistakes, but our trip was great, in large part, because of info from this board.
Reservation! We bought resale at BLT in October. Finally got access to system and called to make June reservations. I had 43 points banked from 2012 from our seller so I had to do something with them. The CM at MS was checking a studio at Saratoga Springs in December for me; I never asked about anywhere else because I thought it was too late. He says I have a savanna view at Kidani for those dates for 52 points&&.I almost startled him when I yelled BOOK IT! It was such a SCORE!

Off duty Stormtrooper with Bay Lake Tower(Our Home Resort) Welcome Home sign-Sky Bridge

Getting there is half the battle:

We left North Carolina at 1 PM on Thursday for a Thursday night check-in. Our school schedule and work obligations dictated this late departure. Nighttime construction north of Jacksonville had I-95 down to one lane, but traveling in the evening hours kept traffic to a minimum. Would I do that again? Probably not, but it is doable for our 9+ hour journey. We checked in just before midnight at Kidani Village. We had done online check in and I called to confirm they knew we would get there LATE. Check in was flawless.

We arrived in our room, a Savanna view studio, without incident and after scoping out the exits (a habit of mine) and the ice machine we tried to sleep. This was the only real mistake I made that first day of travel and one I should have anticipated. My thought was that my wife and kids would sleep on the journey down and a late arrival would be offset by the rest on the way down. WRONG. Anticipation and bathroom breaks kept all awake and the chatter was uncontrollable once we got in the room. That good, ol' Disney excitement that caused me to buy into DVC in the first place, hit the kids like an espresso rush. Good thinking, Dad!

We had a 7AM ADR at Chef Mickeys on Friday. So it was late to bed and early to rise. The vacation zombies I created by the late arrival were OK but this was our second real mistake...... I have to deviate from chronology for a moment to explain. Our 2010 trip to Disney was MAGIC, PERIOD. Sort of like Mary Poppins, practically perfect in every way. I aimed at recapturing some of that magic and part of that was starting off the first day with Chef Mickeys. Very few Disney memories will rival that first visit to this Character Dining Experience. But here is the rub&&you cant duplicate that experience. Fast forward to oh-dark thirty this December&..we were on our way to Chef Mickeys after arriving late. The food was fantastic, the characters fun. The coffee was strong (Thank The Maker!) and we had a great time. BUT IT WAS NOT THE SAME. Add to it that the kids ate one Mickey waffle (Still our favorite) and some fruit, the cost in time and money was not worth it&&for a second visit. Dont get me wrong, I am not saying it was BAD in ANY REGARD. It just was not as amazing as the first time.

The upside to eating at 7:05AM at the Contemporary is a monorail trip to MK and Rope Drop. If you have never done this, you need to. I am not sure I would plan a whole trip around making opening of the park, but it was worth it to see the characters arrive by train and the countdown. We took photos and bought Mickey T-shirts and made our first FP+ at Space Mountain by 9:45. SCORE. While we were waiting around to head over to MK, A CM let us take a look at the BLT rooms that they apparently had available for tour......We were thrilled to see what our Home Resort rooms looked like in person. We were happy with photos, but the tour confirmed our belief. HUGE SCORE!

A side bar about Magic Bands, Fast Pass+ and the My Disney Experience App: IT WORKED FLAWLESSLY. I have read a ton about people being hacked off and missing FPs and all that. My advice is to make sure your FP+, ADR and tickets show on your MDE online. Check on a computer BEFORE you leave. If it is there and linked, you probably wont have any issues. I noticed a discrepancy between what the app on my iPhone showed and what the app online said. I had changed a lot of stuff several days out and apparently it took a while for all the info to synch. Dont be afraid of the new system. Once I was there, I made new FP+ selections for our day of departure from my iPhone and we had no issues. I also upgraded my MYW tickets to DVC APs while in the park of Friday and that showed up and was linked immediately in MDE. I had no issues at all with the technology, EXCEPT my band was slow to scan on a couple of rides. I heard one CM say they had seen that same thing with other blue bands&&but it always worked. No worries about the bands&&
I have the Limitless Power Of The BAND!!!!!!!!!!!

Because we had spent a bundle on APs, MVMCP tickets (CM confirmed DONT link Party tickets to MDE&.a warning I heard here and heeded) and Memory Maker (see note below) we skipped lunch. We had an early dinner at Crystal Palace (Mistake 3) so we rode rides and generally grinned uncontrollably till 3PM. I used the hard ticket KTTW FP system to get a Big Thunder FP. That worked Friday and Saturday. There really needs to be 4 FP+ allotments instead of 3. We had a blast and headed to Crystal Palace.

I have a great Disney friend who HATES Crystal Palace. We loved it last time and had a good experience this time. Here is the mistake #3. An 11 year old and 9 year old wont eat enough to justify the expense. There again, first time is a charm, second time, maybe not worth it. Not one thing was wrong with our dinner. We had a positive experience. But cost/benefit says next time we avoid any buffet.

We had bought tickets to MVMCP and picked up our cards at City Hall when I upgraded to APs that morning. We got our arm bands at Tortuga Café about 4:15 and went for our FP at Big Thunder. The party was totally worth it&&this time. I cant say I would necessarily do it again, but it was worth it this time and one of the highlights of our trip. We hung out on Main Street about an hour before the first parade (kids needed the rest) and then moved down toward the Castle for the Projection show. All were amazing and the videos online DONT COME CLOSE.

Side bar about Memory Maker. I read a lot about MM being Photo Pass Plus renamed and not worth it and so forth. Heres our thing: We ceased to carry a camera and video camera a couple of years ago with the advances in cell phone tech. Cell phones are great for most things but that little lens SUCKS for nighttime photos. I got Memory Maker. Yeah, all $149.00 worth. And I would do it again. The integration with Magic Bands (the photographers all scanned a back up PP card that the first PP photographer recommended because the MB tech was new) worked great. There was a couple hour delay for them to show up in the MDE website (I could not figure out if it was available for view via MDE app for iPhone, if it is, it should be easier to navigate to and if it isnt it should included) but all were there shortly. I accessed it via Safari on my iPhone, not the MDE app. I expect I will do it again in June. Better quality pictures and I get to be with my family in them. Again SCORE for MB.

Late night trip back to Kidani. We drove back home. No issues except I was so tired I missed my turn and ended back on I-4&&..Mistake #4&.study map before-hand if you are driving in the World. Tiredness and GPS are not a flawless combo.
The bed in the Studio was comfortable. The pillows were way better than I expected and the pull out worked great for the kids. We drank coffee and watched animals in the morning. SCORE FOR AKV. The resort was gorgeous! My wife did not especially like the darker earth tones of the resort, she liked the brighter feel of BLT, but the kids and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
We had FP+ for our favorites at HS and the FP+s worked perfectly. We never waited in line longer than 10 minutes. STAR TOURS WAS THE BOMB! (Check my avatar and user name&go figure) We rode that twice. We had a great day at HS and ended with the long wait for Fantasmic! Well worth the wait. We drove back to AKV. Once the kids got settled in, my wife and I went to Saana lounge. The naan sampler was amazing. We talked like grown folks, in complete sentences, for almost 20 minutes until my daughter texted us wondering what we were up to&.gotta love iPod touches and Disney resort wide Wi-Fi.

My son and I woke up early, and s we would not disturb the girls, went Walkabout. It took us to Jambo house (HUGE SCORE&..beautiful!) We walked back ad checked out the Kidani pool. We liked it better and we changed and went swimming (AMAZING SCORE!- swimming three days before Christmas). We went back to the room, rounded up the girls and got in the car. Had already got a printout of our charges to our Magic Bands the night before so all we did was get in the car to leave. My wife and I looked at each other and we agreed. One more trip to the MK! (SCORE FOR APs)
My plan was to grab a bite to eat at Contemporary and my wife wanted to pick up a gift at Fantasia. I told the guard that at CR and we parked. We did not end up eating, we got our gift and headed to MK via monorail. It was 11:00. I had made a FP+ for 10:30-11;30 for Space Mountain and 12:35 for Jingle Cruise. We made our FP for Space Mountain by 3 minutes. We did the Jingle Cruise and stopped back in Contemporary by monorail to get one last gift. We were in the Car at 1:00PM. We said goodbye to one of my favorite places in the World&goodbye until June.

The only cure for Disney withdrawal is, of course, another reservation. Final Mistake&&we did not buy DVC in 2010 when we first thought about it. In retrospect, it probably was not a mistake. I did not know about resale, and finances were better now, but we would have missed a horrible withdrawal&&..

Parade on Sunday....the Magic of an Annual Pass and a departing day Park Visit......the "World" at my fingertips....this is why I bought DVC.

Nuggets Learned:
DVC made sense for us, and played out like I expected.
Buffets are not good use of money with kids.
Annual Passes are the best buy if you have more than one trip on deck.
Magic Bands and FP+ are not scary.
My Disney Experience mobile and online is your friend.
Kidani is more cozy, Jambo more expansive. Both are amazing.
Check MS on phone for last minute ressies! You might be surprised.
Memory Maker is great&.probably better value for longer stays or larger groups.

Stormtrooper 501st Legion- Carolina Garrison
I am not too short to be a stormtrooper!

Last edited by Trooper8286; 01-03-2014 at 10:39 AM.
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Old 01-03-2014, 11:27 AM   #2
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Location: Buffalo/Niagara Region
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Awe! What a wonderful first trip. It is so true about trying to recreate the Magic, it always ends up disappointing. That's a good lesson learned on your first trip, and an important one to share.

We too LOVE the naan sampler at Sanaa. We had it several nights trying to try all the different dipping sauces.

How come you chose to ride the monorail from BLT instead of walk? Seems to me walking would be easier unless you have a monorail obsessed child or a disability. Just curious.

We have gotten lost sooooooo many times on Disney property. Even with all those purple signs at least once a trip we get hopelessly lost, or end up by Downtown Disney when we really want to be a AKV or something like that.

Thanks for you report. Can't wait to hear about your next trip.

I hope my son didn't get one of the slow blue bands.

Trip report from our first DVC trip: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2864556
Plus our Anniversary Vacation: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2954701
Trip report with a potty training toddler: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2987412
I survived a trip with MIL: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3040750
A Magic Kingdom Ultimate Tour Adventure http://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...92&postcount=1
First trip with Magic Bands http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3170056
Post Holiday Trip Report http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3201404
Non-Fancy Fanatics at VGF http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3268362
Sept '03 (All Star Sports, DH's first trip) || March '04 (Travelodge) || March '05 (Star Island) || XMAS '06 (All Star Vacation Home) || March '07 (POP, Deluxe Dining Plan) || March '09 (POP) || June '09 Disney Land || April '11 (All Star Vacation Home, DS's first trip-14m) || January '12 (OKW, first DVC trip) || July '12 (Boardwalk, Anniversary Trip) || Sept '12 (AKV) || Jan '13 (AKV) || July '13 (SSR, Anniversary Trip) || September '13 (SSR) || January '14 (Boardwalk, AKV) || May '14 (VGF and Expedition Everest Challenge)
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Old 01-03-2014, 11:31 AM   #3
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Following along!
For the love of Disney...
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Old 01-04-2014, 06:28 AM   #4
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Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: SC
Posts: 470

Great report! I really enjoyed reading your experience and I don't think you made any "mistakes" Merely learning experiences as to how your family will do better and enjoy your trips more in the future! I did laugh and relate to several of them though. We did one trip where we arrived after 10pm and I remember thinking the same thing, that the kids would go right to bed. NOPE. Won't do that again ! We have also missed the turn for the AK and ended up back on I-4 heading to Tampa But mostly our trip "mistakes" are a poor choice for meal time or restaurant. LOL, we have at least one every trip.

So are you heading to BLT for your June trip? So fun! We were just at WDW the same time you were, and now that I am home I feel like all I am doing is thinking about our August trip and what we should and shouldn't plan to do . I love that about DVC, always another trip to look forward to and plan for! Enjoy your June planning, and thanks for sharing your experience at Kidani!
2014 June SSR
2013 Jan OKW, June HHI, Sept SSR, Dec WLV/VGF
2012 Jan BWV, April HHI, Oct WLV
2011 June AKV-Kidani
2010 Sept OKW
2009 Sept AKV-Jambo
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Old 01-11-2014, 10:35 PM   #5
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Welcome Home

Great Report!! We were at Jambo house on the 20th of December so I feel like we were 2 ships in the night! I am glad you had a great trip and that you learned so much. We also loved our MB and MDE it worked flawlessly. I took a real chance and linked our MVMCP tickets to the bands and had no problems but I carried our paper tickets just in case. We are on the cusp of DVC membership, it's just a matter of time!
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akv, christmas, kidani, magic bands

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